Hi. This is Hazuki, owner of the hostel.
I’ve already written posts on the surprisingly wide variety of cheap restaurants in Japan.
Today, I decided to write a long-awaited (?) post on Japan’s beef bowls: gyūdon With its remarkable simplicity, this bowl of rice seasoned with thinly sliced beef and glazed onion, it’s hard to find anyone who isn’t a fan… The generally sober seasoning allows for a better appreciation of the unique flavour of the rice itself, and it’s hard to say no to its low price. No matter how tight a backpacker’s budget might be, I would still proudly recommend gyūdon as one of Japan’s must-try national dishes.
However! Most restaurants include rice and baked fish, miso soup, eggs, nattō or nori, as an exemplary Japanese breakfast should be. These courses, too, are available at a considerably accessible price. One could even say that it is perfectly acceptable to have a gyūdon for breakfast, and then another one at noon. This would be a typically Japanese culinary experience.
Japanese gyūdon chains
No matter where you go in Japan, there will always be a gyūdon restaurant around. They can be found close to the larger train stations, or in shopping streets.
The most well-known chains are these four and, naturally, all of them are represented within the Hiroshima city centre.[Header] Which is cheapest?
- Yoshinoya Normal serving ¥352(+vat) 652 kcal
- Sukiya Normal serving ¥350 (743 kcal)
- Matsuya Normal, premium beef serving ¥380 (Standard beef serving available at ¥320)
- Nakau Normal serving ¥380
Matsuya offers both premium and standard beef, but which type is available depends on the restaurant. Based on their standard beef outlets, this chain might be the cheapest.
If I were to comment on each of the chains…
Yoshinoya: the one preferred by most people in terms of taste. (I’m mostly a Matsuya fan, however. More on that below)
Matsuya: makes me happy because they offer free miso soup with every gyūdon!
Sukiya: so many options!
Nakau: as I explain further down, rather then for their gyūdon, I would recommend this chain for their oyakodon!
Which is closest to the hostel?
The closest to our hostel would be the Nakau restaurant in Tokamachi.
On a side note, this outlet was in the news in July 2019. The reason was that two female kitchen workers at the restaurant reportedly suffered reduced consciousness after a carbon monoxide intoxication. I remember being scared while seeing this on the news.
My top choice: Matsuya’s gyūdon
Contrary to the other chains, Matsuya offers a free bowl of miso soup if you eat in! Yay!
Matsuya offers both premium and regular beef bowls, of which the premium variant is sold mostly in the Kansai region, and both types do not seem to be offered alongside each other. In Hiroshima, I’ve only seen premium beef. My take is that they decided to hold back on discounts.
My second choice: Nakau’s Oyakodon
Nakau is famous for its oyakodon. Their scrambled eggs are sweet and very softly textured. It’s almost impossible to imitate at home…That’s it for now, but do try this at least once!More details in another post!